I am not a new “newbie,” but my perspective on RV etiquette is shifting. In 1999, I purchased a 26’ Winnebago Brave with the express purpose of traveling back and forth from California, where I had a home, to Kansas, where I was attending veterinary school. I never used the Winnie for recreational travel, but enjoyed using it when I needed to.
When I began traveling in the Winnie, I quickly learned the basic rules of etiquette when driving and when staying in RV parks: Turn your generator off when getting to camp. Be friendly and respectful of your neighbors and the condition of the campground. My dogs were on leash and I was very careful to clean up when they did their business. No loud parties (if you knew me, this was not a difficult rule to follow). Leave your site clean and litter-free. I routinely flashed lights for the truckers and other RVers when it was safe to change lanes. I got the same courtesy.
RVers are helpful and friendly
The first night on the road in Flagstaff, my neighbors helped us hook up the sewer, water and electricity. What I learned that night was that RVers are incredibly helpful and friendly and that people will go out of their way to help you.
This lesson held true for the next 20 years.
Fast forward to 2021. The Winnie died a peaceful death so it was no longer available for travel. So, as most of you know, I recently purchased a used 39’ Newmar toy hauler to move my large clowder of felines to California. Retirement was upon me and I had planned for many years to purchase another RV. I loved my time in the Winnie and enjoyed meeting fellow RVers. However, this time, I wanted to use the RV not only for moving but for recreational travel with my cats. I went about purchasing the Newmar entirely the wrong way. You can share my pain and get a modicum of amusement by reading the series in past RVTravel.com articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
California dreamin’; California etiquette
The cats and I made it to California despite the stress and travails of a not-so-perfect RV. We have been living for the past few months in a lovely RV park in Palm Desert. It is quite busy this time of year because of the influx of Snowbirds and, based on the number of California license plates, recreational campers.
While living here, I have made some observations about what has changed (or not) about RVing and RVers. I know much has been written about this, so this is just my two cents.
My faith in the faithful RVers is not shaken. I have met some wonderful people who have helped me and have shared their RV tips and woes. It reinforces my love for this community.
However, there is a clear “new” vibe. The number of brand-new luxury Class As and fifth-wheels is quite apparent. There are new shiny trucks, too. Good for the RV park but good for us, too? I hope so. I think the growing popularity of RVing will help in the long run. The influx from new RVers during the pandemic will settle down. But there will remain “new” converts who, I hope, will learn from their “elders”—not old, per se, but experienced.
There is a lot of work to be done.
Etiquette to be learned
The most apparent thing I noticed is people walking through occupied sites. I was taught this is very rude. How do you teach the newbies this? If one is outside enjoying the weather, politely pointing out the breach of etiquette is, of course, the thing to do. However, I admit a bit of apprehension about this. Anger in our society today is spilling into the RV community and one risks suffering the onslaught of a diatribe if an attempt is made.
Tony Barthel wrote here about the RV lights left on all night. I turn my patio lights off at 9:00 p.m. to respect my neighbors’ quality of sleep. Most RVs have blackout shades, but I still think it polite to kill the lights. The LED lights are burning bright all around me and all night long, so my sense of politeness is not shared by many others.
There are so many dogs at the park
With very few exceptions, they are on leashes and their owners are being respectful of the rules. However, I have seen a few dogs loose and when I warned one RVer that their dog was loose, I got a dirty look and a dismissive hand gesture. Not cool. The park has dog parks, so loose dogs are a gross flaunting of the rules. Here is Gail Marsh’s post on dos and don’ts regarding dog park etiquette.
The same applies to children: unsupervised children running through campsites, riding bikes on grass and generally not being careful on the roads filled with huge motor vehicles. This is especially scary at night. My sister almost hit a kid riding with his dad between sites and into the road with oncoming traffic. It shook up my sister (in a tiny Honda fit) quite a bit. This is a wonderful setting for children to play, but parents must supervise and make sure they are safe and respectful of their neighbors.
I had a conversation with my sister about the etiquette in the park. I opined that the influx of new RV owners could be to blame for bad behavior and that over time they will learn. My sister thought it was a symptom of the overall increase in anger, intolerance, and rudeness in society. She attributes a lot to a dangerous sense of entitlement, but I hope she is wrong.
I will be moving into my house soon but hitting the road again this spring. I will look forward to meeting new people and sharing this wonderful life of RVing.